Revellers direct ire against policemen who were guarding them around midnight.

Police and revellers clashed at the Devaragattu festival in Kurnool district on Monday night resulting in injuries to over 30 people including 10 constables. In an unprecedented move, the revellers directed their ire against the policemen and chased them.

SP B. Raghurami Reddy, who was present, asked the force to demonstrate restraint and help the common devotees to move away safely. The police were taken aback by the incident. The weapons used by the revellers were more lethal than those used by the policemen.

Devaragattu temple, devoted to Mala Malleswara Swamy temple, has been in the news for several years because of the bloody sport wherein revellers beat each other with clubs to protect the processional deities.

The villagers of around 50 hamlets in Aluru of Andhra and a few in Karnataka attend the function on Dasara day and take part in the procession. As per the tradition, the devotees armed with clubs beat each other in order to divert the deities to their respective villages. The residents of Neraniki, where the temple is located, put up a fierce resistance to save the deities from getting hijacked. Many revellers received moderate to serious head injuries but left the place after rubbing their wounds with turmeric powder. The villagers say they do all this to please the Gods and there is no personal animosity involved.

Rationalists and progressive thinkers raised a hue and cry over the festival and demanded its ban terming it ‘barbaric’. But the local people resisted the attempts saying that this was their age-old tradition and no personal violence and vendetta was demonstrated.

According to the local people, revellers turned against the police because of ‘over-enthusiam’ demonstrated by the latter who tried to disarm the public.